A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting up with a friend for an exclusive look at an extra special press car. My friend writes for iMotorTimes and he invited me for a short but somewhat sweet ride around Manhattan on a weeknight.
That friend is Danny, and that extra special press car is the Hot Lava colored Scion FR-S seen above and with it, we did what no one has done thus far. So many others have been taking the car straight to the track, or to some nice, twisty, open roads (nothing wrong with that).
But we drove the FR-S around the Big Apple’s rotten streets during rush hour.
The result? If you could care less and just like to look at it, in a nutshell, it was above average, and you can stop reading. If you care to know the details and are actually interested or thinking of buying one, read on…
When you open the door to get in, you have to crouch because the car sits fairly low, and reminds me of the altered ride height in my first car, 1989 Acura Integra. In fact, the entire car is a throwback. Not only to the AE86, but to all little Japanese cars of the ’80s.
The first thing you notice when you sit down, are the seats, naturally. They have the perfect balance between comfort and sport, holding you ever so close in motion and letting go at rest. Second thing you notice? The terrible interior materials. Aside from the gauge cluster, the entire dashboard could use a freshening up with better materials. Across the entire dashboard is a fake carbon fiber insert and along the door cards, is fake perforated leather (plastic but fooled me until I touched it), and there are clashing textures throughout the interior. The backseats are pointless, a small child couldn’t fit their legs between the rear and front seats.
There’s not much smooth about the FR-S in terms of driving. Gear shifts are clunky and tough to find gears sometimes, the throttle is touchy and can become jerky, the ride is pretty stiff and you’ll probably spend more time avoiding bumps than enjoying it, the boxer engine is a bit under powered and the sound coming from beneath the hood is very mechanical and pretty raspy… anyone reminded of their ’80s Japanese import?
Everything changes, though, when you make the gas pedal send the rpm’s above the 3000 mark. The engine sounds happy to be there and the car is chipper, for lack of a better word. Steering, brakes, and the gas are responsive and due to the sensitive throttle, the somewhat limited power is always at hand. The car loves high revs.
Overall, the FR-S is sensitive and touchy, tight and to the point, a bit of a firecracker, much like your first girlfriend.
As a daily driver, I could see how it might become a bit rough around the edges, but for those that have had a 20+ year old Japanese car, that’s not such a bad thing.
If you’d like a more detailed description of the car by the man who drove it for almost a week, read Danny’s post over at iMotorTimes.
What happened to this type of Japanese car? Now there are minivans and hybrid cars everywhere. This charming little Datsun Fairlady (predecessor to the Datsun/Nissan Z) I saw today just outside the Financial District in Manhattan gets a little less gas mileage than that stupid Prius behind it, has less batteries, the drive is more fun, and it looks a million times better.